Monday, February 17, 2014

Strain by Amelia C. Gormley

Title: Strain
Author: Amelia C. Gormley
My Rating: A

Genre: Erotic Dystopian Romance (m/m)
Series: -
Main Characters: Rhys and Darius
Release Date: February 2014
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: erotic

Story Overview:
In a world with little hope and no rules, the only thing they have to lose is themselves.

Rhys Cooper is a dead man. Cut off from the world since childhood, he’s finally exposed to the lethal virus that wiped out most of the human race. Now his only hope for survival is infection by another strain that might confer immunity. But it’s sexually transmitted, and the degradation he feels at submitting to the entire squad of soldiers that rescued him eclipses any potential for pleasure—except with Darius, the squadron’s respected, capable leader.

Sergeant Darius Murrell has seen too much death and too little humanity. He’s spent a decade putting plague victims out of their misery and escorting survivors to a safe haven he can never enjoy. He’d rather help Rhys live than put him down, so when Rhys can’t reconcile himself to doing what’s necessary to survive, Darius is forced to save Rhys in spite of himself.

But with each passing day, it looks less and less likely that Rhys can be saved. Which means that soon Darius might have to put a bullet in the head of the one person in years who reminds him of what it means to be human.

My Review:
This is not an easy book because this is not an easy fictional world. This is a dystopian world where a series of viruses have decimated the population. There are three basic kinds of people left....Revs (infected zombie-like creatures), Jugs (infected super-human soldiers), and civvies (humans not infected yet).The infection was created by the government for war and it mutated out of control. It's a virus that's spread through fluids...and this is where it's complex and I probably don't have it all straight because there are three different strains of the virus. Basically, Rhys has been infected and might turn into a Rev, but the Jugs who find him think they can keep that from happening by infecting him with their version of the virus. The way they do that is by having sex with him, multiple times a day by multiple partners to expose him to the most variants of the virus hoping that he will eventually become a Jug instead of a Rev. If he becomes a Rev, they will have to kill him.'s harsh and complex. It's made even more so by the fact that Rhys is a 19 yo virgin who's spent the last 7 years being told he's evil because he's attracted to men by a fanatic, deranged priest who took great pleasure in torturing him. Rhys has issues that certainly aren't made any easier by the fact that suddenly he's having to basically have gang sex with an entire platoon of soldiers who aren't real happy with the idea either. He's reluctant which makes it seem wrong to them, but it's either that or kill him. No good choices here for him or them. The only thing all of them agree on is that they don't want him to die so this is what they have to do. 

Rhys is confused. Because of the way that he's been treated, he actually does better with the sex if it's combined with a bit of pain and intimidation. Yeah, as if things weren't difficult enough already. He doesn't understand that and feels like he's a sick person. He also doesn't express that very well which is hurting all of them trying to help him. The leader of the soldiers is Darius and he and Rhys form a bond. Darius has his own issues. In the former world, he would have been called a Dom and he sees glimpses of what Rhys is dealing with, but Rhys is so young and so innocent that Darius feels guilty about his sexual draw to him. There are lots of people in this book that feel bad about what's going on...but again, it's that or let him die. 

The book and story are complex and Amelia created an amazing story. Never at any time does Rhys feel like he's being abused or raped by the soldiers. That doesn't mean that there aren't times when his mental state is at the point of resisting anyway. This book definitely borders the edge of rape and non-consent and it will be a serious hot-button for a lot of readers. Warning! If that's an issue for you, you probably won't be able to deal with this story. But there is a scene toward the end of the book between Darius and Rhys where Rhys spells out that he has never felt abused by them, regardless of his actions at the time. He knows that what everyone is doing is because they are trying to save him, not hurt him. 

It's a difficult book, but I really did enjoy reading it. It was one of those that I didn't want to put down. I needed to know how all this turned out for Rhys and was sure at one point in time that this was not going to be a book with a happy ending. The ending surprised me. It's definitely not an unhappy ending, but I didn't see that coming. Overall, I loved the book. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review. 

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